Wolcott History
Wolcott Historical Society

Wolcott Historical Society News - July 2016

By Florence Goodman

This month I will return to my discussion of old barns still standing in our town. Since I began searching for these old structures the list has grown. While driving around town on our daily route to and from work, school, etc we tend to ignore the buildings we routinely pass. My intent in writing about these structures is to make you "slow down and smell the roses" or should I say, "slow down and look at these beautiful old barns that you are missing." As I have noted before, the Woodtick area was a thriving section of our town and the barns that remain are a testament to it. This month I will share pictures and information I have found about these barns.

Right next to our Historical Society's Schoolhouse Museum at 169 Nichols Road you will find an excellent example of another old barn that is still standing. In 1914 Helen Thomas Badger and Claude Badger purchased this property and it remained in that family until October of 1958 when it was sold to Edward William Brown and Barbara O'Brien Brown. In 1981 Edward J. and Rosa D. Brown took ownership and in 1986 Donn A. and Robin Innaimo owned this land. The present owners William and Karen Brown purchased the property in 1988. The Brown's have had the barn renovated and stabilized while keeping its historic integrity. The original house has also been enlarged and renovated. This historic land and structures overlook the old Upson Mill Pond that today is know as the Woodtick Recreation Area. I only wish these walls could talk and share their history with me.

As we travel down Nichols Road toward Woodtick Road we find another barn across from Frisbie School. This barn is nestled in the trees next to the house found at 403 Woodtick Road. The house dates back to 1845 and was built by Carolus Byington. In 1873 the deed was transferred to Arthur Byington. The Byington family dates back to the establishment of the Farmingbury parish and has a long history in our town. Several other members of the family were later known for their skills at making the "great wheels" for spinning wool and the "little wheels" for spinning flax. In 1874 William Somers purchased the property. Martin Winkler and then Sandra and William MeKinley later owned this home. The McKinley's sold the property to Arthur Schneider in 1998. After speaking with Art, I learned that over the years he has done extensive renovations to the house and barn. This beautiful barn had a dirt floor, which he changed to wood; he also added a sliding door. An animal stall and a hayloft still remain. He also put an addition onto the back of the house while still maintaining that "old house" charm.

A short distance down Woodtick Road we find another beautifully renovated barn that is situated on the property of Woodtick Memorial. The Frigon family saved this barn from the wrecking ball many years ago. This barn was part of the Todd holdings at some point in time, but I really don't have any other information about it, except that it is used for storage for Woodtick Memorial.

A much larger Todd barn is found on the southwest corner of Todd Road and Garrigus Court. This magnificent structure was part of the Todd Farm, which included the Robert S. Todd House that was built in 1855/56. The large barn was added in 1876 by John Todd and was used to house his prize oxen and donkeys. John Robert Streat Todd (1846-1942) lived his whole life on this farm where he was born and died. He was named for his father Robert Clark Todd and his grandfathers John Barnes and Streat Todd all of whom owned the property. John graduated from Yale Business College. He married Edith Maria Williams in 1889. They had two children Ruth and Oscar Todd. John Robert Streat Todd owned and operated a sawmill on their property that was built in 1848 by Streat Todd and Thomas Lewis. The mill was located on Lily Brook, which ran through Lily Lake. His lumber and wood business supplied all "muffle" wood for the Waterbury brass mills' furnaces. He also produced and sold hundreds of telephone poles and railroad ties before the blight killed the chestnut trees. John Robert Streat Todd was one of Wolcott's leading landowners and prominent businessman. He held many offices in our town government. He served as town clerk, assessor and first selectman. He was a public school supervisor and was responsible for hiring all teachers and selecting and purchasing all textbooks. Although he did not hold a law degree he was well versed in the law, which allowed him to write deeds, appraise property and settle estates. Mr. Todd was a person of integrity and was highly respected and loved by all that knew him. In his mid 80s he lost his vision, but until his death at age 96 he remained mentally alert and had a wonderful sense of humor. The Todd family left their mark on our town in many ways that it is still evident today. Oscar and Ruth Todd sold the property in 1980 to Carmen and Brenda Schifillti who still live there today. They have made major renovations to this majestic barn and home while maintaining their historic charm.

We are fortunate that the residents that own these historic properties are willing to take the time and money to maintain them. These wonderful landmarks of our local history have been saved because of their efforts. Next month I hope to finish up the barn discussion with several barns throughout town that I have left to research. Remember, if you know of a barn I have missed, please let me know.

(Information for this article was taken from "The History of the Town of Wolcott, Connecticut From1731 to 1874 by Samuel Orcutt, "The 175th Anniversary 1796-1971" by John Washburne, "The 1986 Historic Resources Inventory" by Paul Loether, and "The Todd Family in America" by John Edwards Todd D.D.Ed and George I. Todd 1920)

169 Nichols Road

The barn found at 169 Nichols Road on William and Karen Brown's property.

169 Nichols Road

The barn found at 169 Nichols Road on William and Karen Brown's property.

403 Woodtick Road

Barn found at 403 Woodtick Road on Art Schneider's property.

Carolus Byington House

The Carolus Byington House built in 1845.

Todd barn

A Todd barn found on Woodtick Road next to Woodtick Memorial and renovated by the Frigon Family.

372 Todd Road

The Todd barn found at 372 Todd Road was built in 1876.

Robert S. Todd House

The Robert S. Todd House was  built in 1855/56. It is owned by Carmen and Brenda Schifillti.

John Todd family

The John Todd family and friends out for a Sunday drive circa 1900.

Todd barn

A 1970 picture of the Todd barn on Woodtick Road before the Frigon family had it rebuilt.

To view past installments of the Wolcott Historical Society News, click here.

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